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DC begins recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere

[JURIST] A Washington, DC law [text, PDF] recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states or jurisdictions took effect Tuesday, following Congressional inaction on the matter. The Jury and Marriage Amendment Act of 2009, passed by the Council of the District of Columbia [official website] in May by a 12-1 final vote [JURIST report], was subject to Congressional review pursuant to the Home Rule Act [text, PDF] before becoming law. Councilman Marion Barry [official profile] cast the only dissenting vote. Although Congress was urged to oppose the law [AP report] by church leaders, they took no action. Last month, DC Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin upheld a denial of a referendum on the bill, ruling that it violated DC's Human Rights Act [materials]. Councilman David Catania [official profile] applauded the judge's decision [press release], saying that:

Both the Board of Elections and now the Court have stated very specifically that old court cases limiting marriage to heterosexual couples are no longer relevant. In addition, they have recognized the Council's march towards equal marriage rights as real and relevant. And finally, they have concluded that any action that would curtail those rights is a form of discrimination that is specifically prohibited by the Human Rights Act.

The challengers who sought a referendum include Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. and Reverend Walter Fauntroy, who argued that DC deliberately impeded debates [Washington Times report] on the issue by introducing the provision in the context of amending another bill.

Last month, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch [official website] signed legislation [JURIST report] that allows same-sex marriages to be performed in the state as long as religious organizations are not required to participate in the services or recognize the unions. The Nevada Assembly has also passed [JURIST report] a same-sex partnership bill over a gubernatorial veto. In May, the New York State Assembly [official website] passed a bill [JURIST report] that would allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the state. That bill will now go before the state senate. Also in May, Maine became the fifth state to allow same-sex marriage [JURIST report] when Governor John Baldacci [official website] signed a same-sex marriage bill into law. In April, Vermont became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through a vote of the legislature, joining Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa [JURIST reports] as the other states that allow same-sex marriage.

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